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Magnetic North: Adapting to a new world

Magnetic North is developing a new performance project based on the book Gossip from the Forest by Sara Maitland. The book explores the strong connections between folk tales and forests, and investigates our forest-dwelling roots. Our adaptation will use live music (particularly traditional/folk) and storytelling. The team working with Magnetic North’s Artistic Director Nicholas Bone is writer Martin O’Connor, songwriter Kirsty Law and three performers: Biff Smith, Kirsty Eila McIntyre and Claire Eliza Willoughby (you can read more about them at the end of this post). 

We were due to begin work on the adaptation with a development week beginning today at Summerhall, but like everyone else we have had to re-think our plans very quickly. Half the team is based in Edinburgh, the other half in Glasgow. Once the advice about only undertaking essential travel was given, we realised that it wouldn’t be possible to all be in the same physical space. After talking to everyone, it was apparent that people still wanted to work, even if we couldn’t all be physically in the same place. So this morning, we’ll start an experiment in working together separately. The three Edinburgh artists all live within walking distance of Summerhall and will meet in a studio big enough to mean they can be in the same room while maintaining the suggested physical distance from each other. We will undertake tasks, including learning the song that Kirsty Law has written, and at times the other three will join us via a video-conferencing app. How will it work? We don’t know, but we will talk about it at the end of each day and see how we feel. It’ll be a learning experience, but we are all going to have to get used to doing things differently over the next few months.

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Supporting our network of artists

We'd love to ask how we can support our network of artists in these strange times.

Independent artists are used to uncertainty, it goes with the territory, but at the moment it feels like the ground is shifting underneath us all. Isolation is something that all artists feel at times, but right now it feels more important than ever to consider what we can do to help each other. With this in mind, do you have any thoughts about how we might usefully facilitate connections over the next few weeks? There seem to be plenty of Facebook groups springing up, so it doesn’t seem worth adding to this burgeoning field but we could perhaps run regular group video chats, or have an ‘art-buddy’ scheme. You will certainly have better ideas, so please let us know what you want from us.

Email us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. to let us have your thoughts. In the meantime, you might be interested in this link to freelancer-specific guidance from the Association of Independent Professionals and the Self-Employed (IPSE). 

With best wishes from all of us at Magnetic North,

Nick, Verity, James and Caitlin.

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Space/Time residency March 2020

Magnetic North is delighted to announce the artists who have been selected to take part in our next Space/Time retreat.  This edition of Space/Time is presented in partnership with Dance North Scotland and will take place at Findhorn, Moray.

Space/Time is a paid creative retreat for experienced artists from different disciplines that asks the question “How does an artist keep developing?”.  It aims to refresh participants through a stimulating examination of creativity. During the residency, we explore how creativity can be nourished and how artists can continue challenging themselves to develop.  The residency combines facilitated dialogue - built around a series of self-generated questions - with time for individual reflection and work as well as time to cook and eat together. It is led by Nicholas Bone and Alice McGrath.

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Casting call for development week in March 2020

We are developing a new performance project based on the book Gossip from the Forest by Sara Maitland. The book explores the strong connections between folk tales and forests, and investigates our forest-dwelling roots. Our adaptation will use live music (particularly traditional/folk) and storytelling. We are currently looking for three performers for a development week from 23-27 March 2020 in Edinburgh.

The breakdown is as follows:

1 musician/performer – this is primarily a musical role but will also involve some dialogue, so it needs someone who is confident with this as well as being a highly-skilled musician with experience of folk/traditional styles. Experience of working on arrangements, especially with songwriters, would be useful.  

2 actor/musicians – confident theatre performers with experience of storytelling and strong musical skills (instrumental and/or vocal) and an understanding of folk/traditional music.

Experience of both devising and working with a playwright would be invaluable.

Fee of £500, plus travel or relocation (as appropriate) at ITC rates if based more than 25 miles from Edinburgh.

If you have any specific questions, please email director Nicholas Bone This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

For more information about Magnetic North and its work, please visit magneticnorth.org.uk

Please apply, outlining appropriate experience and with a CV and any useful supporting material (or links); you can also supply this information in an alternative form (for example with a video or sound recording) if you would prefer. Send applications to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. by 12.00 midday on Monday 13th January 2020.

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Artist Attachment update

The last six months of my artist attachment with Magnetic North have been hugely challenging, provoking and revealing from both a professional and personal perspective. My focus has been to observe the debates about rewilding and conservation in Scotland, from attending high profile discussions around issues of land management, to rewilding conferences and participating in highly divisive acts of conservation. 

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